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  • Jonathan Isserow

Heads Together to Heads Up! - Challenging Mental Health Stigma in Football

Updated: Aug 3, 2020

Heads Together is a great campaign in the UK media right now, that aims to make visible and de-stigmatise mental health difficulties across a range of areas. One of their programmes is Heads Up, which is particularly interesting as it combines the seemingly hyper-masculine activity (football) with the exploration of challenging feelings and the acceptance of mental health difficulties. Its a very clever strategy to catalyse important and overdue conversations about men's mental health in the mainstream. Its focus on football has many benefits but also some constraints. It can use this sport (which has an almost religious status in the UK) to bring to the fore issues which have historically been hidden or considered shameful. However, it might also exclude other men who do not identify with football, which has been associated with a certain toxic masculinity. It will be interesting to see if this campaign will, in turn, make spaces for new narratives of masculinity to emerge in the sport and further afield.

PS: This campaign should be aligned with Heads Up Guys, which is an excellent Canadian-based psycho-educational resource for the prevention and treatment of depression in men, run by Dr John Ogrodniczuk at the University of British Columbia. Both campaigns have tremendous synergy but are not yet linked.

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